University of Utah,
Salt Lake City, USA

Group process has long been studied by social psychologists, but it is still not fully understood in sporting contex how to maximize team chemistry. Some of the components which contribute to effective group performance are group structure, developmental stages, communication, cohesiveness, problem solving and team building.Sports teams usually form what is known as a primary group. The development of any collection of individuals into primary group requires that the members go through a process of getting to know each other. Tuckman (1965) found that all groups go through four stages which he described as forming, storming, nirming, and performing. The ultimate goal is to reach the performing stage in which all of the talents and contributions of the members are blended together into the most synergistic whole.The forming stage begins when a group comes together and continues until a conflict aeises. Conflicts can be either good or bad, but usually arise from a crushing defeat, losing a key player, or a dispute with coach. It is essential for teams in the storming stage to resolve their conflicts quickly so that they can move on to the norming amd performance stages. Once the norming stage is reached, a team can regain its focus and be able to work together productively.When everything is working smoothly in the norming stage, then there is a higher probability of attaining the performance stage in which the group functions at its best and wgere it most closely resembles a primary group.

Effective communication is vital for any effective group, because it group members would not be able to express their views and ideas. If all of the components of communication (expressing a message and receiving that message) are functioning properly, the group will bw able to accomplish their task, and will be willing to accept challenges.

Cohesiveness is the tendency of a group, or team, to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its objectives. The five basic elements of cohesiveness include positive interdependence (we instead of me attitude), individual accountability (completing one’s share of the work), face-to-face interaction, social skills, and group processing.In other words, group cohesion is based upon a mutual respect and a willingness to remain a part of team, even under difficult and trying circumstances. Once all of the group members receive satisfaction from being a part of a team, then cohesiveness exists.

Every team, no matter how successful, will have problems which may return the group to the storming stage of development. When this happens, it is the responsibilitu of the team leaders (coaches or respected team members) to make sure the team does not linger there, but rather returns to the norming and performing stages as quickly as possible. Problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury to key players, cliques, problem athletes, or new members joining the team. One intervention approach is to modify the behavior of team members.

The final part of forming any group is building the team itself. One objective of this team building is to encrease the long-term effectiveness of the team by improving the process of team members working together. Once the team reaches the performing stage, it should be able to accomplish just about anything it attempts. In order to help a team reach this final state, psychologists have devised several different interventions, both direct and indirect, depending upon the team and its circumstances. In the direct approach, the motivation comes intrinsically from the members. By educating them and showing them what needs to be done, they can help build their own team. The indirect approach is most common with athletic teams, as strategies often get filtered through coach and team leaders. In reality, both approaches may be helpful at times as teams toward the performing stage.

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Hall, E. Optimizing team chemistry for effective group performance // Человек в мире спорта : Новые идеи, технологии, перспективы : Тез. докл. Междунар. конгр. - М., 1998. - Т. 2. - С. 400-401.